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Marseille, France

Written on: Saturday May 19th, 2007

A journal entry from: Blitz the Med

We started our day in Marseille at Vieux Port (the old harbour) which is just the water front at the center of town. Being able to take a minute and not be jet lagged, I had my first european coffee which I was totally stoked for. As I struggled to remember my grade 11 french and get everything paid, we decided on a couple of sites we wanted to see.

The most obvious site to see in Marseille is the basilica Notre Dame de la Garde which is situated on a hill towering above the city. It has magnificent views of all of Marseille as well as an incredible church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A huge golden statue of the Virgin Mary and a child lies atop the highest steeple looking out over the port and the sea. Being as it was my first European-style church I was pretty stoked and in awe of the church and its location. I've seen religious sites of equal and greater beauty in Asia but there is something about European Christianity that is amazing. I think because they're so old and have been revered for so long... i dunno.

We walked back into town after exploring the basilica and came across the Abbaye de Saint Victor, a 5th century church founded on the tomb of St. Victor. Apparently you can go into the crypt but it was closed that day. Afterwards we walked down to the port and had lunch on the water. Not recognizing very many words on the menu I stuck with beer and managed to stumble into ordering a flat-bread, open faced sandwhich thing and olives.

After lunch I set about just walking the city and exploring the narrow alleys and streets of the city. I was kinda shocked because Marseille is actually very dirty. Theres a lot of dog crap all over the streets, fresh and old, which makes looking anywhere but the street hazardous for your shoes and hygiene. I went up to one of the fortresses that guards the port and found another amazing church, Les Cathédrales de la Major, which had a huge stunning hall. There was a childrens choir practising in it while I explored and the acoustics of the church made it into a very haunting and surreal soundtrack.

I got slightly lost on the way back but thanks to some helpful people and maps I was able to drag myself through conversation and find my way.